PROMPT: A TIP ON DIALOGUE

March 18, 2019. The prompt for Monday’s meeting was taken from the book titled, The Pocket Muse – ideas and inspirations for writing, by Monica Wood.

A Tip on Dialogue

When writing dialogue, every once in a while allow a character to jump to a conclusion. Conversational leaps add momentum to a scene and force you to get to the main conflict between the characters. The following dialogue is fine, but stuck in a holding pattern:

Donny opened the door to the landlord.
“What do you want?”
“I’ve got some items to go over with you,”
Mr. Leadbetter said. “It won’t take a minute.”
“It better not.”
Mr. Leadbetter edged into the kitchen. “To be honest,
I’ve had a few complaints about your habits.”
“My habits? Like what?”
“Like playing music after midnight, things like that.
Leaving trash in the hall. That sort of thing.”
“I don’t do that. That’s all Carter in 4B.”
Mr. Leadbetter glanced at his list. “I’ve also got some
complaints about the parrot you keep on the balcony. It
scares the neighbors.”
“So what? I signed an ironclad lease.”

If you open this same sequence by having Donny jump to a conclusion, in this case a correct one, the scene opens with a little moire spark:

Donny opened the door to the landlord.
“What do you want?”
“I’ve got some items to go over with you,” Mr.
Leadbetter said. “It won’t take a minute.”
“If this is about Junie-Bell’s screaming,
you can just forget it. There isn’t a word in my lease
about parrots scaring the neighbors.”

 

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